Category Archives: Other Reviews
The issues concerning these characters in this next batch of comics show a continuing embrace of knowing the path versus walking the path. Whether with Star, Hawkeye or even John Jameson, the question lies in control and freedom, and not ultimately of the endgame which many times is harder to see.
Hawkeye: Freefall #6 The aspect of Clint as a superhero is that he knows how to think outside the box which makes for a better criminal than most would think. The problem is that he tends not to think about collateral damage after the fact…a mistake he keeps on repeating versus foes who are a little bit more efficient in the way they approach their craft. Ronin just doesn’t want to stop whle he is ahead but he does know how to work the chess board, especially with the Red Hood. Egocentric bheavior breeds contempt, especially in followers. And that is what Ronin uses to his advantage. The problem is that even those who want to help him, he ultimately ends up hurting more and that is what sends him into freefall. Even though his sidekick Bryce had his own agenda, he protected him as did Night Nurse and to a lesser point Cap. The problem comes when he approaches the end of the line.
Spider Man: The Black Cat Strikes #5 Spider Man, as with most boy wonders, loses his cool or at least a little bit of his sense with the musings and actions of the girl he likes or is involved with. Felicia (aka Black Cat) in being the criminal knows how to play this despite some moral imbalances running below the surface. As per usual, Spidey is dealing with some kind of robot monster but it is more the monster that he cannot see. Black Cat likes the chase even if she knows exactly how to win. A car chase done in a flirting sort of progression makes it clear but it is the discussion between her and MJ that is the most telling and the biggest subtle character push of the issue that really stays with the reader.
Ravencroft #5 The essence of this criminal asylum like those that came before it is the idea of who is insane and who is trying to use that as a weapon through which to control. The idea is no different here with the idea of perception and control being the requisite factors. The initial panels of this issue really have a visceral quality with The Punisher and Misty attacking through the asylum with abandon before the captured heroes inside are given a way to live on by confessing their knowledge or being converted per se. The tricky idea is the tropes where the asylum will be incinerated at a certain point and what that means in the larger structure. What is actually really intense is the psychological bent specifically between John Jameson and Norm Osborn. The ultimate resolution is a neat reverse psychological warfare triumph that reflects in certain ways to some of the brilliance of what “Resident Evil” did in its inception but with less gore. The ultimate take away is who has been coerced versus betrayed.
Star #5 Independence in certain situations is made by choice but it depends what has come before. Star, as a character because of her possession of the reality stone, has come into an idea of power. Even when confronted by Captain Marvel and Scarlet Witch who both are aware of what unbridled power does, Star still makes a definitive choice. While this is expected, these characters, and by extension the reader, can only learn the failure of a path sometimes by walking it instead of hearing about it. The Black Order is not without blame here either since their intentions ranging from person to person are muddled. Their progress depends on choice as well and what their goals are for the future. Star, in the same utterance, just wants to be herself and be free but in a way where she doesn’t quite understand or perhaps embrace the entire picture.
Like many issues the idea of action versus consequence is contained in each character’s motivations. Whether it is living up to expectations, maintaining a steadfast point of view without selling out or simply paying for sins of the past, this week’s comics show that progression, especially in terms of The Punisher. Different points in life dictate differing reflections.
Avengers Of The Wasteland #5 The key in creating new characters while not losing the essence of the ones that came before them is to saddle them with expectations while understanding that they need to make their own choices whether it is necessary or not. The path in this series is Dr. Doom and his need for one last battle that shows his mettle. The question becomes the intentions of those that carry the mantle of Thor, Ant Man or Captain America, what does it mean to be that person…and where does their own identity lie. Without spoiling any of the plot points, it is about the choices being made, whether it it is good or evil and how it reflects legacy.
Force Works 2020 #3 Robots overrunning an island is not a new occurrence but when it is two different factions of evil trying to find the less damaging side, it can be an interesting paradox. The members of Force Works led by War Machine are a diametric group even if they are paler reflections of The Avengers. Quake seems like the most straightforward but understands the necessity of her work while the others seem preoccupied by the sociological and philosophical intention of tech versus the greater good. In trying to save a world where does acceptable collateral damage lie. Force Works’ job as a team is to help cover up the elements of power while still maintaining to some standard of ethics. When a giant baddie in the form of Ultimo combines with a Deathlok giant it is a powerful visual image. The switched perspective in the final battle moments is well executed while the epilogue plays to the united front knowing that the greater good will prevail…for a few days.
Revenge Of The Cosmic Ghost Rider #5 Having someone as bad-ass as Frank Castle taking on the Ghost Rider mantle especially that of the Cosmic variety is a great idea. While the texture filters in with a mix of Heavy Metal and Lobo, the ride, however archetypal or metaphorical is rife with beauty. Mephisto, as a character who takes an innocent girl’s soul into the underworld, has enough charm and sarcasm to build an sinister yet alluring path to lure Castle down into the depths of Hell. Unlike some cosmic plots, this issue is both clear and convoluted in the most visceral way making for brisk action and story. Mephisto sitting on his chair in Vegas with a straw in a decapitated frat boy’s eye while Castle is roaring on a fire steed down Las Vegas Blvd. is the greatest kind of comic imagery. Then the resolution especially the irony of different deals made gives this story a beautiful kind of tragedy.
Scream: Curse Of Carnage #6 This continuing series with this entry “Suffer The Children Part I” shows our symbiote host finding her way through shelters just living a wandering existence. However now there seems to be a kidnapper on the loose taking young children. She feels a sense of protection for some but the symbiote inside her wants to look out for itself. At one point in the middle, she gets into a 3 way fight with Sandman and The Punisher who are all looking to dispense justice on a recent perp who is just one part of the puzzle. Each character here needs different information which all gets lost in a jumble. The more interesting story that moves towards the end is a mythical creature which, for all intents and purposes, provides a very focused point on what these kidnapped children are being groomed for.
By Tim Wassberg
As with many characters, grappling with identity and who a person wants to be, both internally and to the outside world, can be a struggle. With the Marvel issues this week whether it be Star trying to find her footing against Captain Marvel to Clint (aka Hawkeye) literally interjecting his path with his duality, the stories reflect the unbalance within characters both good and bad that motivates their actions.
Star #4 Following the existential rumination of Riley Ryan aka Star, this issue has her still vying for control of the Reality Stone which makes her dangerous but unbalanced between good and evil. As she fights Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel, she is moving between being defeated and dying, all within her own head. This kind of transference makes her a very interesting character. The actual battle occurring with Black Swan and others trying to gain access to the stone is a reliable but vague plot point. What is more conducive is watching Danvers trying to see her opponent in a new way and Riley, despite her danger, dealing with vulnerability in her power.
Spider Man – Black Cat Strikes #4 Spider Man always has the ability to get distracted no matter what generation he is living in. He simply wants to believe the best in people. While that make him in a way notoriously naive, it is his burden to bear. His ex girlfriend Black Cat supposedly died in an explosion and while he is processing her death, the balance of Mary Jame comes in. Unlike Black Cat, MJ does not have superpowers but is better for him all the same. But it is interesting in Peter’s mind where guilt resides, whether a relationship works or not. As the issue progresses he reminisces about what Black Cat says versus her actions and what he might have been able to do to help her…not that she needs any.
Ironheart 2020 #1 Bringing the notion of Iron Man into the 21st Century, the impact and intentions of Tony Stark range high in this beginning tome about a young woman who was mentored by Stark and now tries to carry on some of his intentions while the new voice of Stark industries, one of her contempories subterfuges what Stark’s path or wishes might have been. Granted Tony Stark has immense issues of his own but it is interesting to see the structure through which this vision operates. Riri, also known as Ironheart, has a best friend who is an AI that he is a reflection of her best friend that died. She comes off as a reverse Id in many ways while her would be boyfriend tries to be the chorus in between the lines. This story tries to be at times a bit too modern with its references to intellicars but the notion of esteem and betrayal rings loud and clear.
Hawkeye: Freefall #5 The aspect of Ronin in between The Avengers movies is an interesting construct but the comics take a bit of a different path. Clint, as a character, definitely doesn’t want to play by the rules but he still wants a certain vengeance and texture of tit-for-tat. The problem is that his lashing out seems all over the place, not in terms of plot but just his psyche. This is supposed to show his lack of emotion or too much of it. The balance in this issue is who is the real person and who is not. Clint goes in and bullies cops, the Mayor, The Hood and even his sidekick but it ultimately simply opens up the wound a little more, especially regarding a certain lady friend. The slice that happens near the end in more true to the pain Clint is suffering than any other fight.
By Tim Wassberg